Life for people with disabilities is especially difficult in rural Mexico. Automobile accidents and a high prevalence of Diabetes lead to high rates of amputations, and those affected face severe social, economic and mobility obstacles. For many, traditional prosthetic devices and proper medical services are far too expensive. Many drop out of the workforce, and find it extremely difficult to economically sustain themselves. Many more remain dependent on friends and family, providing a burden on the entire community.
It doesn’t have to be like this, according to Don Bernardo, local entrepreneur and leg amputee who heads the “Associacion Civil del Flor de Cardo Santo”, a community organization to support locals with disabilities. Having already made 3 prosthetic legs using basic hardware tools and locally available materials, Don Bernardo believes that he can not only build more devices for the community, but also train people with disabilities to build their own devices. According to him, “People are entirely capable of improving their lives, they just refuse to believe it”.
Collaborating with Alejandro, a local engineer who developed a process for making low-cost prosthetics form carbon fiber, and Sam Bhattacharyya, an American volunteer, Don Bernardo will use the support of his organization and $4000 in donations to set up a community workshop/laboratory to manufacture low-cost and custom made prosthetic devices from scrap metal and waste carbon-fiber. The aim of the project is not only to help provide access to prosthetic devices in the local community, but also to train beneficiaries in income generating skills and to provide a support network for people with disabilities in the area. By working with the beneficiaries to regain their livelihoods and economic independence, we hope to help them both figuratively and literally get back on their feet.